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The Piaggio Group has created a new company with some of the brightest young minds out of Harvard and MIT all working to improve urban mobility. Piaggio Fast Forward will work out of Cambridge, Mass., bringing together students  from different backgrounds and disciplines to research solutions to today’s transportation problems and meet the demands of the future, especially as cites become more complex and densely populated.

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In a sense, the new company is following Piaggio’s own history. Founded in 1884, Piaggio started out producing trains but turned its attention to building aircraft for the two World Wars. Following WWII, Piaggio’s manufacturing capabilities were in ruins, as was Italy’s economy and infrastructure. Enrico Piaggio, son of founder Rinaldo Piaggio, turned the company’s focus away from the aeronautics industry and toward designing lightweight vehicles for the masses could handle Italy’s torn-up roads. This led to the first Vespa scooter in 1946 and the rest is moto-history.

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Piaggio Fast Forward held its first event today, called “The Shape of Things to Come”, with speakers from the technology, design and engineering fields such as Jeffrey Schnapp, company chief executive officer and Harvard professor and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Nicholas Negroponte, co-founder of MIT Media Lab, and Sasha Hoffman, PFF’s chief operating officer and investment banker-turned co-founder of travel startup Fuzzy Compass.

[Source: Piaggio]